Al Sharpton should not become the public face of the protests

The advantage of an unorganized, distributed movement is that it can grow organically, attracting people from all different points on the ideological and socioeconomic spectrums—because there is no central face of it to cause negative polarity. If you are, say, a libertarian, or a Christian, you are every bit as likely to be drawn to the Floyd protests as you are if you’re an African American or a Democrat.

A distributed movement lowers the political and psychological barriers to entry in important ways.

But precisely because it’s distributed, the movement is vulnerable to hijacking. Because if someone steps forward to say “This is what we’re all about,” there’s no organizational authority to push back against it.

You saw that happen over the last week when “defund the police” went from a fringe Twitter slogan to a semi-serious position that was being ascribed to much of the protest movement. In just a few days, anyone who was supportive of the movement was being asked to answer for it, as if defunding (or abolishing) the police was somehow an official position of the protests.